The Raving Theist

Dedicated to Jesus Christ, Now and Forever

2001 January

One Hand Slapping

January 24, 2001 | Comments Off

“What good is choice if no one is there to provide it?” asks Jessica of NARAL Pro-Choice’s BushvChoice. Note the power of the euphemism in her question. Employing the word “choice” saves her from beginning the query with “what good is abortion . . .,” which would likely provoke immediate, negative answers from many people. It also allows her to maintain the charade that “pro-choice is not pro-abortion” — although it’s easy enough to guess which of the two choices she’s thinks it’s better to “provide.”

Indeed, as we soon find out, abortion not just good, it’s a necessity. And like a good aspirin commercial, she trots out a doctor to make her point. Actually, it’s future doctor Amelia Welsh Jones, a second-year medical student, and she’s quoted from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer rather than JAMA. Almost-Dr. Jones’ thesis confirms that she’s writing for a post-intelligent world:

Abortion is one of the most common surgical procedures among U.S. women. More than 1 million women have abortions each year. Despite this medical need, doctors emerging from medical schools and residency programs are not being trained to meet the needs of their patients.

“Scary stuff,” says Jessica. Now, Jessica finds lots of stuff to be scary, but I’m with her on this one if she’s talking about Jones’ logic. The quasi-doctor has inferred a need from a number — a medical need at that — and used it to conclude that the number isn’t big enough. Presumably if the “need” were fully met, we’d have two million abortions a year, which in turn would demonstrate a need for even more.

I blogged here a few months ago about the irrelevant and misleading “access” statistics that NARAL uses in its annual “Who Decides” reports. But whereas NARAL just drops them in without explanation, Jones makes them an explicit part of her “need” equation. “87 percent of U.S. counties and 98 percent of rural counties do not have a single abortion provider,” she warns, leading us to wonder whether high school fire extinguishers should be replaced by suction aspiration machines.

But it’s best she can do. When we speak of the “need” to increase the number of facilities to perform a particular medical procedure, the first number we consider the total incidence of the disease. But the “disease” that abortion “cures” is pregnancy. So for Jones’ statistics to make any sense she’d have to opine how many of the 5 million unborn she thinks belong in the trash each year, rather than diverting us with a geography lecture.

But it’s the doctor here who needs a lecture. Borrowing from a couple of old Zen koans, I’ll give one that responds to a question slightly different from the one Jessica poses: “What is the sound of choice if there is no one to provide it?” The answer is one known to every delivery room doctor: the sound of one hand slapping — and a baby drawing its first breath.

Matter of Phillips

January 18, 2001 | 1 Comment

On May 29, 2003, appellant, proceeding pro se, filed in the Civil Division of the trial court pursuant to D.C.Code §§ 16-2501 et seq. (2001) an Application for Change of Name. Appellant in the two-page printed Application form sought to change his name from Peter Robert Phillips to Jesus Christ and asserts: “A common law name change in D.C. was done previously.” The record does contain the following documents that were attached to the Application: a photocopy of a United States Passport issued January 11, 2000, containing a photo, apparently of appellant, and depicting his name as “Jesus Christ;” a Social Security card issued by the Social Security Administration to and signed by “Jesus Christ,” and a District of Columbia Driver’s License issued January 11, 2001, to “Jesus Christ” at his address in Northeast Washington; and a photocopy of a Florida birth certificate, recording the birth of Peter Robert Phillips, Jr. The birth date on the Florida birth certificate matches the birth date on the United States Passport as well as the District of Columbia driver’s license issued to “Jesus Christ.” Seven days later, on June 5th, the trial court denied appellant’s request for an order of publication as well as the Application on the ground “that taking the name of Jesus Christ may provoke a violent reaction or may significantly offend people.”

This court has stated that “[u]nder the common law, any adult or emancipated person could change his … name at will, without any legal proceedings, simply by adopting another name, as long as he did not do so for a fraudulent or criminal purpose.” Brown v. Brown, 384 A.2d 632, 632 (D.C.1977). We noted that “a statute which sets forth a procedure by which a person can petition a court for a change of name … [does] not abrogate the common law right.” We went on to state: “The use of a statute … has advantages in that it is ‘speedy, definite and a matter of record, so as to be easily proved even after the death of all contemporaneous witnesses.'” Id. at 632-33.

The D.C. Code provides in §§ 16-2501 through -2503 a procedure for effecting a name change. Specifically, the statute requires the applicant to be a resident of the District, to set forth the name desired to be assumed and the reasons therefor, to file notice of the application and to publish such notice in a newspaper in general circulation once a week for three consecutive weeks. The statute authorizes the court to change the applicant’s name “[o]n proof of the notice prescribed” and “upon a showing that the court deems satisfactory ….”D.C.Code § 16-2503.

The Superior Court has adopted Rule 205, denominated “Change of Name,” which provides in subsection (b) that “[a]t the time of filing of an application for change of name, the Court shall (I) require the applicant to make a prima facie showing of the applicant’s right to relief, (ii) set a date for the final hearing, and (iii) inquire who, if anyone, is entitled to notice of the application and of the final hearing. Notice of said hearing, together with a copy of the application shall within 10 days thereafter be served personally upon the persons designated by the Court or shall be sent by the applicant … by registered or certified mail ….” (Emphasis added.) Subsection (d) of Super. Ct. Civ. R. 205 provides in pertinent part: “A final hearing shall be held on a date set by the Court. Upon proof of notice … the Court may enter an order changing the name of the applicant.”(Emphasis added.)

The record in this appeal does not reflect that a proof of publication was made and does not contain a transcript of any hearing that might have been held by the court. We are constrained upon the record presented to vacate the trial court’s Order and remand the appellant’s Application for Change of Name to the trial court so that his Application can proceed and be determined in accordance with the dictates of the applicable statute and the rules of the Superior Court.

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